Nodding Harebell flowers start to blossom on the Lizard from July, taking over from Sheep’s-bit as it begins to fade.

Photo: janetgraham84new, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Campanula rotundifolia

Other common names: Scottish Bluebell (or, in Scotland, simply Bluebell), Witches’ Thimbles, Old Man’s Bells

What to look for:

  • Flowers : A few blue bell-shaped flowers, usually with five petals, drooping in a loose panicle
  • Leaves : Slightly toothed leaves at base are rounded on long stalks; stem leaves are thin and linear in shape
  • Height : 15 to 50 cm
  • Where : Heaths, dry grassland, dunes, roadsides
  • When : The flowers appear from July to October
  • Habit : Erect to partially recumbent
  • Similar to : Other Bellflower species

As Sheep’s-bit begins to fade in August, it gives way to the Harebell, its near relative and another member of the same family (Campanulaceae – the Bellflowers). The nodding Harebell flowers appear from July until the early autumn, and are one of our least fussy wildflowers, growing on both acidic and base dry soils, from sand dunes to heaths to mountains, in full sun or partial shade.

Harebells are perennial, and spread using rhizomes below the soil. Blooming later in the year, they provide a welcome source of nectar for bees and other insects.

Did you know…?

…The genus name of Campanula is from the Latin for bell, a reference to the bell-shape of the flowers.

…Although common in most of Britain, Harebells are much scarcer in the south-west.

More information and references:

Bates, R., and Scolding, B., 2002. Wild Flowers of The Lizard. Cornwall County Council, Cornwall.

Mabey, R., 1997. Flora Britannica. Chatto & Windus, London.

Rose, F. and O’Reilly, C., 2006. The Wild Flower Key, 2nd edition. Frederick Warne, London.

Stace, C., 2010. New Flora of the British Isles, 3rd edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Published: August 2014
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend